If the food chain were categorised on the basis of size, we humans would figure near the bottom half of the hierarchy. Man is placed right on top only because of his intelligence. But some of our most prized possessions tend to be made from once-natural sources. This includes the most delicious foods, the most precious metals, the most coveted luxuries, and the most useful items.
Leather is one such example. When the rawhide of many animals like cows, pigs, sheep, and goats is processed, we obtain leather. In fact, animals like crocodiles, snakes, and even eels supply exotic varieties of leather. While some leathers are better suited for making garments or extreme-weather protection gear, others are used in premium luxury items. Goat leather, commonly referred to as goatskin, is a versatile variety of leather. It is used for making a range of items such as apparel, pouches, belts, shoes, and gloves.
History of Goatskin
Interestingly, among all the ruminants, goats were the first to be domesticated by human beings. It’s believed that Morocco was the birthplace of goatskin as the locals used it for everything from making water pouches to jackets, rugs, and accessories. That’s why it is still nicknamed “Morocco Leather”. Goatskin made its way to Europe just before the 20th century began. Its popularity soared very quickly and the processing methods became even more refined with time.
Characteristics of Goatskin
Remember how we called goatskin a versatile material earlier? Now, we’ll tell you why.
Some people firmly consider Morocco leather to be the strongest among all the naturally occurring leathers. If it competes against others like the cowhide or say, kangaroo leather in sheer power, it may not be so. But combined with the rest of its properties like tensile strength, which we shall shortly address, it overtakes most other varieties.
High Tensile Strength
Simply put, the tensile strength of any leather is determined by how much it can withstand tearing pressure. In this context, goatskin holds up incredibly well in comparison to many others. As might be expected, the tensile strength of any leather is also affected by other factors. These include the direction (latitudinal or transverse), the age of the hide, and the tanning process as a whole. When considered in totality, goatskin displays an impressive degree of tensile strength.
In terms of softness, goatskin is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. While it isn’t as soft as specialty leather like a crocodile or even sheepskin, it is definitely much softer than say, cowhide or leather from horses. It comes naturally endowed with lanolin, which makes it soft and also quite supple. Lanolin is a viscous, fatty substance with a waxy texture and even lends itself to healing creams and ointments. In fact, a further version of goatskin is kidskin. This is obtained from young goats or kids. This leather is softer and also far more supple, making it a highly-sought-after material. The most popular use of kidskin is in the making of gloves.
Resistant to Moisture
This quality gives goatskin a real good leg up on its competitors. Nature has provided water resistance as a natural defense mechanism to goats, and we humans get to enjoy its benefits!
Goatskin has an extremely high threshold of moisture. Items made from goatskin, such as jackets, are able to withstand wet and humid weather far better than other leather garments. This was recognised very quickly and early on by people when they started storing water and other liquids in goatskin leather!
Commercially treated and produced goatskin is generally in a straight-grained leather pattern. The direction is kept consistent when it’s being dried as well. During the processing, the crushed goatskin needs some rolling out and ironing. This renders it even smoother, more supple, and raises its softness too.
Value for Money
Industry experts consider goatskin one of the most economical varieties of leather. It generally falls in the mid-scale segment if one looks only at the price. But the durability it provides besides the being water-resistant and strong gives it a much better score than some other leather varieties. Throw in its flexibility, lightweight nature, and natural softness, and its scores ratchet right up.
Uses of Goatskin
Goatskin has a wide array of uses. Getting to know its characteristics a bit better may have given you a good idea of why that may be so! Let’s have a look at its most popular areas of commercial usage.
It’s strong, moisture-resistant, soft and lends itself well to dyeing in different hues. These qualities make processed (tanned) goat leather an obvious candidate in the manufacture of rugs. It’s also incorporated in the process of carpet binding.
Goat leather which hasn’t been chemically treated, meaning it’s untanned, is specially used to make some kinds of musical instruments. Drumheads or sounding boards can be made out of goatskin, and they are valued for the unique sounds they produce due to a unique texture.
Goatskin, because of its strength and trio of tear, abrasion and water-resistance is a sought-after material in the bookbinding process. There are well-documented cases of ancient books standing the test of time owing to their impeccable binding.
Goatskin certainly finds the most wide-spread use in the form of garments such as jackets, skirts, and trousers. Goatskin leather is favoured quite a bit because it is warm enough to give protection against the cold. Yet, it doesn’t stifle the individual in average weather.
How can we forget the boots, belts, wallets, purses, and bags made out of goatskin? These are really popular as well as economical. Lest we forget, a special mention has to be made of kidskin gloves. These serve as a luxury item and often grace special occasions in the form of gifts.
All in all, it wouldn’t be stretch to say that goatskin is among the wisest choices you could make while purchasing your choice of leather apparel or accessory. If you do need help with your shopping, explore Sculpt Australia for more or just take along that sweet aunt who gifted you those kidskin gloves last Christmas!